Steve Lewis, WWII Buffalo Soldier Dies at 99

Faye Higbee
steve lewis

Steve Lewis was one of the last living Buffalo Soldiers, but whether he was THE last one is unclear. He was a member of the storied Army 9th and 10th Cavalry Unit. He passed away Tuesday in Bradenton, Florida at the age of 99. He was just one month away from his 100th birthday.

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The 9th and 10th segregated Cavalry units were formed in 1866 and used in the US expansion Westward after the Civil War. Many of the members of the unit fought with the North in that war. According to tradition, the name “Buffalo Soldiers” was given to them by a tribe of “prairie Indians” due to the color of their skin and fierce fighting ability.

Steve Lewis enlisted in the US Army in 1943 while taking classes at Florida A&M. He stopped the classes and was sent to Fort Clark, where he was “told to corral and get a horse and issued a saddle, bridle, horse blankets, and stirrups.” By the end of his time there he could ride and fire a .45 from horseback. People who knew Lewis said that he took care of his horse before himself.

In 1944, the units were disbanded, and Steve was transferred to U.S. Army Transportation Corps in Casablanca, Morocco. There he assisted with delivering war supplies to the front. He retired from the service as a Corporal.

After the War, Steve Lewis went back to school to complete his degree in Agriculture. He taught for 30 years in Palmetto, Florida.

Many people ask me to what I attribute his long life? And I always say it was the women in his life. He was always surrounded by caring, strong women — his mother, his aunts, his older sisters from his father’s first marriage. He had an older cousin, Annie Craddock, who took his hand and walked him to the first day of school, and his younger sisters from the union between his mother and father.

Jennifer Lewis, Steve’s daughter

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Featured screenshot of Steve Lewis, and Buffalo Soldiers in the background.

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